From the central Wisconsin IFO field at Wausau, the Mobile Polarization Lidar and a surface radiation station from the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory observed two very tenuous cirrus clouds on 21 October 1986. The clouds were present just below the height of the tropopause, between -60 to -70 C. The first cloud was not detected visually, and is classified as subvisual cirrus. The second, a relatively narrow cloud band that was probably the remnants of an aircraft contrail, can be termed zenith-subvisual since, although it was invisible in the zenith direction, it could be discerned when viewed at lower elevation angles and also due to strong solar forward-scattering and corona effects. The observations provide an opportunity to assess the threshold cloud optical thickness associated with cirrus cloud visibility. Ruby lidar backscattered signals were converted to isotropic volume backscatter coefficients by applying the pure-molecular scattering assumption just below the cloud base. The backscattering coefficient due to the cloud is then obtained and expressed in relation to the molecular backscattering coefficient in terms of the scattering ratio R. The linear depolarization ratio for the cloud is computed after removing the essentially parallel-polarized scattering contribution from air molecules. The values are also applied to determine the cloud optical thickness through the use of backscatter-to-extinction ratio, and the concentration of cloud particles using the backscattering gain, and the effective diameter of the particles obtained from the analysis of solar corona photographs. The sizes of the particles generating the corona are related to the angular separations between the centers of the red bands and the sun, yielding diameters of approximately 25 microns. The direct and diffuse components of shortwave radiation fluxes, measured by full hemispheric pyranometers, were used to compute the nadir optical thickness of the total atmosphere.